What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 131: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

  • Today’s Movie: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • Year of Release: 1987
  • Stars: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins
  • Director: John Hughes

This movie is not on my list of essential films.

NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of something called the Travel Gone Wrong Blog-A-Thon being hosted by 18 Cinema Lane. This event is exactly as advertised; it’s tales of travel gone wrong. But it’s also broken into two categories…hilariously wrong and horrifyingly wrong. This movie is not horrifying!

You can see all the contributors to this blog-a-thon here:

The Story:

There’s a tired old saw out there about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Thankfully, I’ve already dispatched that twaddle. But I am going to raise the idea that Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is the best Thanksgiving movie. Anybody who has ever tried traveling around that long weekend in November understands exactly what happens in this film. I could tell a tale of having to make a connecting flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on the Wednesday before “Turkey Day.” You can be thankful I will save that for an episode of Story Time With J-Dub. Rather, this is all about one the most hilarious “travel” flicks ever put on film.

Neal Page: One of eight million people looking for a taxi.

The story starts with advertising executive Neal Page (played by Steve Martin) in New York City where he is trying to nail down a large marketing campaign for a cosmetics company. After several frustrating hours of making no appreciable progress, the meeting breaks up with the plan to resume after the upcoming holiday weekend. Neal’s plan is to catch a cab to the airport to catch a 6 p.m. flight back home to Chicago. But it’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Anybody in America knows that is one of the busiest travel days all year. As such, Neal tries get a cab. Just as he bribes somebody to let him take theirs, somebody else hops into it. Despite this, Neal finds his way to the airport where he coincidentally encounters the very same guy who “stole” his cab…who just so happens to waiting for the same flight. The “cab-thief” introduces himself as shower-curtain ring salesman Del Griffith (played by Del Griffith). With the failure to secure the marketing campaign and his new-found travel difficulties, Neal already is in no mood for Del’s banter.

Things go from bad to worse when the fight to Chicago is delayed, and he’s bumped from 1st Class to Coach…and he discovers his new seat-mate is Del. The good news is they’ve both boarded the airliner, the flight has departed, and they are on their way to Chicago…or so they think. However, due to an “Airport”-level snowstorm in the Windy City, the flight is diverted to Wichita.

Shortly after they land, Del and Neal discover the flight will be cancelled due to the snow, and because of a convention in town, there are no available hotel rooms. But being a traveling salesman, Del has connections, and he’s able to find a place to stay. Del makes a deal with Neal; he will help him find a room where he’s staying if Neal will pay for the cab fare. Desperate, Neal accepts.

But Del got the last room the hotel had, and it only has one bed. Things only get worse from here; Neal takes a shower and finds there is only a wash-cloth to dry himself with. Del orders pizza, which Neal finds nauseating. Del leaves a beer on the vibrating bed; naturally, the can explodes. Finally, Neal hits his breaking point and lashes out at Del. After the argument, Neal realizes he has little choice but to make the best of the situation.

Not your typical traveling companions

While they sleep, they are robbed. They don’t realize this until the next morning when they try to pay for breakfast at the hotel’s diner only to discover their cash is gone. At this point, Del suggests they use their credit cards to get home; the first step being to charge a couple of train tickets to Chicago. The problem is there’s no passenger train service from Wichita. To get to the passenger train station in Stubbville, they hitch a ride in the back of a pick-up truck on a freezing-cold day.

The good news: they got on the train and leave Stubbville. The bad news is the train breaks down in the middle of Missouri. Del and Neal then find their way on to a bus to St. Louis. Neal now senses he is on his way home, so he tells Del they should part ways. Neal then heads for the intending to rent a car. But after the shuttle bus takes him from the airport to the lot where his rental car is, he discovers it’s gone. He returns to the airport which leads to one of the great profane tirades in Hollywood history.

Once again, it’s Del who comes to Neal’s rescue as he’s managed to get a car. Later that night, Del almost gets them both killed by driving the wrong way down the interstate. Not long after that, Del flicks a cigarette out the window, which ends up in the back seat of the car. This starts a fire which almost completely incinerates the car. Neal’s wallet is among the casualties as it was in the glove compartment.

The two find their way to another hotel, where Neal deals his way into a room by bartering his watch. Del is not able to pull the same feat, but Neal takes him in. The next day, Del is driving the flamed-out wreck of a rental car when he gets pulled over for speeding. The state trooper deems what’s left of the rental car to be unsafe and impounds it.

“Do you really think this vehicle is safe?”

On foot again, Del secures transportation for the two in the back of a truck, which ultimately gets them back to Chicago. Neal and Del part ways, with Neal showing his gratitude for Del’s help throughout this misadventure. .But while Neal is riding the Chicago “L,” he recalls Del saying that he hadn’t been home in years. Neal then returns to the “l” station where they parted, only to discover Del sitting alone. Del then admits to Neal he really has nowhere to go as his wife passed away eight years ago. Neal then brings Del home to share the holiday with his family.

The Hidden Sports Analogy:

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles centers on the relationship between Neal and Del as circumstances spiral out of their control. Much of that comes from their being forced together. In my other contribution to this travel-themed blog-a-thon, I discussed one aspect of the foibles that can come from the amount of travel professional athletes go through. Today’s hidden sports analogy is another example.

To understand, put yourself in either the role of Neal or Del. It really doesn’t matter which one. Whether you identify with Neal, feel sorry for Del, or whatever you want, just put yourself into the role of one of the characters. As things are going from bad to worse, imagine if the roommate you have been forced into is also in a tumultuous marriage. Imagine how much worse things could be if that spouse kept showing up at your hotel and starting shenanigans you can’t getaway from.

That’s how several members of the mid-1990s Atlanta Braves felt. When a team travels, only a few of the established veteran get to choose who their road-trip roommates will be. So, when you become the guy nobody wants to room with, somebody gets stuck with you.

Welcome to the tale of David Justice…the guy nobody wanted to room with. Granted, major league baseball players stay in much nicer hotels and eat much better than small-town delivery pizza, but according to most members of those Braves’ team they would take a night in the Armpit hotel and live off sauerkraut pizza than share a room with David Justice.

That’s because Justice was involved in what may have been one of the worst marriages of those days. From 1993 to 1997, Justice was married to actress Halle Berry, and during that time, the two made every member of the Braves miserable.

Before I go any further, I know their marriage made for a lot of tabloid “He said, She said,” and frankly, I don’t care who said what or who did what to who. Rather, this is about the poor people who had to be around them. As the old saying goes, it takes It takes two to tango, and the dances held by Mr. and Mrs. Justice became the stuff of legend.

It started with phone calls to Justice’s hotel rooms at all hours of the night. That was bad enough to get many guys not to want to bunk with him, but when his wife started showing up pounding on the door at 3 a.m., that was when everybody flat-out refused to room with the 1990 National League Rookie of the Year.

The final straw supposedly came during the 1995 National League Championship Series in Cincinnati. Now for legal purposes, nobody has ever officially confirmed this story, but I’ve heard it too many times to believe it has absolutely no merit. not to mention it.

As far as that goes, I’ve heard too many “on-ramps” to how this happens, but the bottom line is Halle Berry somehow became convinced Justice had another woman in his hotel room. The Braves had already informed hotel security after some previous incidents that she was persona non grata and not to be allowed anywhere near the floor where the team was staying. Again, we don’t know the details, but the story goes that Berry gained access to Justice’s room while he wasn’t there, “surprised” him upon his return, one thing led to another…well, to make a long story short, the story ends with involvement from law enforcement and a $2,000 tab for damage to a hotel room.

After this, and despite the fact David Justice hit the Game 6 home run which won them the 1995 World Series, it was clear the relationship between Justice and the Atlanta Braves was over. Injuries limited Justice to 40 games in 1996…but more importantly, while Justice was hurt, the Braves couldn’t do what they really wanted. But after the 1996 season once Justice was healthy, the Braves traded him to Cleveland…which conveniently enough was Halle Barry’s hometown.

The Moral of the Story:

Whether you’re a shower curtain ring salesman or multi-million dollar outfielder…traveling sucks. Unless you’re getting away from a bad marriage.

P.S. Can’t get enough of this movie? Here’s where you can hear MovieRob and J-Dub…any many other bloggers discuss this film.

Check out Dubsism’s Movies and Blog-A-Thons page for a full schedule of projects past, present, and future!

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About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

5 comments on “Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 131: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

  1. 18cinemalane
    May 1, 2022

    Another good review! While reading your article, I was reminded of John Candy’s appearance in ‘Home Alone’. From what I remember, Kevin’s mom boarded a truck ride with a polka band in order to return home. John just so happened to be one of the members of that band, even sitting next to Kevin’s mom on the trip. This makes me wonder if John Candy’s characters make up an unspoken cinematic universe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • J-Dub
      May 2, 2022

      I always wonder how much genius we didn’t get from John Candy because he passed away so young.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: The Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon is Ready to Set Sail! – 18 Cinema Lane

  3. movierob
    May 1, 2022

    tnx for the plug!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SportsChump
    May 25, 2022

    What kind of petition do we have to sign to get this on your List of Essential Movies?

    Talk about a snub!


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